Social Indicators Research

, Volume 142, Issue 1, pp 229–260 | Cite as

Online Social Networks and Trust

  • Fabio SabatiniEmail author
  • Francesco Sarracino


We use Italian data from the Multipurpose Household Survey to explore how participation in social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook and Twitter affects the most economically relevant aspect of social capital, trust. We account for measures of trust in strangers (often referred to as social trust), trust in neighbours (particularized trust) and trust in the police (institutional trust). We address endogeneity in the use of SNS by exploiting the variation in the availability of broadband for high-speed Internet, which relates to technological characteristics of the pre-existing voice telecommunication infrastructures. We find that all the forms of trust significantly decrease with participation in online networks. We discuss several interpretations of the results in light of the specific features of Internet-mediated social interaction.


Internet Broadband Online networks Social networking sites Facebook Trust Social capital Hate speech 

JEL Classification

C36 D85 O33 Z1 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and LawSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg (STATEC)LCSR National Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussian Federation
  3. 3.GESIS Leibniz-Institute for the Social SciencesCologneGermany

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